Inside Yoga 223 (15/1/2018)
It is only when everything is getting busy or we are close to the precipice and things are spinning out of control that we might get the thought “I need a simpler life”. The desire for a simpler way of living has been with us as long as we have been thinking about our existence.
Why do things get out of control? We could and often do blame someone else for our life being too complicated and stressful, but it usually comes down to how us and how we do things and always want to add things to our life. We keep filling it up and wonder why it all goes wrong when everything is overflowing.
Our mind can often act like a young child in a sweet shop or a toy shop – everything looks so wonderful and each and every item is so exciting we soon want more than we can have. We start getting hyper, we get excited, we crash, then we feel crap.
Why? I believe this is because as humans we have not evolved since the template was laid down within us as Stone Age people, where we had to fight for survival and food was scarce. Back then if we found something we could eat or use to live we would take all of it, because we didn’t know when the next meal would be found.
Fast forward to our modern existence and we have everything we need and more; we can eat all day, and we can work all day. Some of us can cope and have found ways of putting the break on, but others struggle when they notice that they need to cut back on something.
This starts with our mind noticing, then taking action and hardest of all, staying the course – which is the hard part! Yoga helps us to achieve this because it trains us to have such skills of restraint and control.
Underneath all the words, all the positions and practices, yoga is quite simple. It trains us to simplify our approach to our practice by first asking us to focus on the breathing and the body in such a way that thoughts are kept at bay with the mind being still and focused.
The repetitive nature of yoga practice is intentional not just because it’s the way to learn the practice, but it is the best way of simplifying everything and for us to achieve the stillness and clarity which is absent when we are so busy – and perhaps for some of us spiralling and juggling with too many balls.
Achieving simplicity is a struggle because our mind loves stimulation, like the candy and toys in the shop. This is why products are rebranded and repackaged frequently, or sales are constantly back on (are they ever off these days?) because they get our attention and kicks off our urge to have more, and more, yet again.
The repetition and simplicity of yoga is the antidote to our busy minds, our busy lives and our distracted ways of being. But this is why simplicity is not only a hard practice to have but many don’t want, because the stimulation of all these goodies out there are just so, so tempting.
There is an analogy of digging wells for water: if we are to find the best water, we need to eventually stick with one well and keep digging instead of flitting from one partially dug hole to the next, constantly distracted by the temptation of starting a new hole, never finding water!
In the same way, our yoga practice is intentionally about digging in the right spot, repeating postures, and sticking to the simplicity of practice. It deepens our understanding of the postures and the breathing, and as a consequence it helps us to understand ourselves, what drives us, our habits, and our usual ways of being distracted. The practice teaches us how to find simplicity and this can then be applied in our daily life.
Read previous blogs about simplicity:
In simplicity we trust – https://www.yogabristol.co.uk/2013/06/10/in-simplicity-we-trust/
Wiping the slate clean – https://www.yogabristol.co.uk/2017/09/04/wiping-slate-clean/
The simple life works – https://www.yogabristol.co.uk/2014/11/19/a-simple-life-works/
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